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Off the top of your head, how connected are you to your body? I don’t mean to your appetite, but how synced you are with the pain and pleasure you feel in your entire corporeal self. Your disconnection is both a cause and result of dysregulated eating. The hopeful news is that, with practice, you can tap into sensing exactly how your body is feeling any time which will help you enormously in making wiser decisions about food.
You do this by performing a body scan (“Oh, Hello There, Body” by Greater Good (11/26/19, Lion’s Roar, https://www.lionsroar.com/oh-hello-there-body/, accessed 2/1/20) in which “we systematically focus our attention on different parts of our body, from our feet to the muscles in our face.” The goal is to experience our body as is without doing anything to or for it and to find and relieve tension caused by stress.
You can do a scan from any position. You might want to try one sitting or lying down. The article recommends doing one for “20-40 minutes, three to six days a week for four weeks.” If that sounds like too much, then do a brief scan less frequently. But remember that to gain the most from an activity, so that it happens almost unconsciously, you must practice repeatedly to make neural connections. Doing a scan every few weeks for 10 minutes is better than nothing but won’t do the job if you’re aiming for greater awareness of your body and stress reduction. Here are the (condensed) steps to follow:
1. Begin by bringing your attention into your body, closing your eyes if you wish.
2. Notice your body position, feeling its weight on the chair or floor.
3. Breathe deeply and with each breath, bring in more healing oxygen.
4. When exhaling, imagine yourself relaxing deeply. As you exhale, have a sense of relaxing more deeply.
5. Notice all the parts of your body against a chair or the floor—"the pressure, pulsing, heaviness, lightness.”
6. “Bring your attention into your stomach area. If it is tense or tight, let it soften. Take a breath.”
7. Notice your hands. Are they tense or tight? Allow them to soften. Do the same with your arms, shoulders, neck, throat, jaw and face—with every part of your body. Breathe.
8. “Be aware of your whole body as best you can. Take a breath. Then when you’re ready, you can open your eyes.”
Before doing a body scan, read the rest of the article which explains why scans work. This is an excellent tool. Practicing it will help reduce stress and prime your mind and body for improved eating.
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